Ben Smith- Smith became a bit of a folk legend after his overtime goal in Game 6 versus the Vancouver Canucks last season. There was a lot of buzz around Smith at the start of the season but he never really contributed much at the NHL level. He had 2 goals and was a -5 in 13 games with the Blackhawks. Injuries limited him to just 38 games in Rockford where he finished with 31 points (15 G, 16 A). Smith is a good skater and plays well in both ends of the ice. His lack of size is my biggest concern for Smith going foward.
Brandon Pirri- Pirri is a very talented offensive center who the Blackhawks are high on. He appeared in 5 games for the Hawks where he got himself 2 assists and was a +2. Pirri was an AHL all star for the IceHogs where he lead the team in points (56), assists (33) and plus/minus (+9). He also registered a team high 16 games with multiple points. He is a great play maker, setting up his team mates, but he can be a finisher as well. Will need to bulk up a bit to bang with the big boys in the NHL.
Brandon Saad- The Blackhawks love Saad and if he can produce like he did in juniors all of Chicago will love him too! Saad scored 131 points in 103 games with the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL. He played in 2 regular season games and 2 playoff games as well, where he picked up his first career assist versus the Coyotes. Saad has a big frame and great speed. He can skate through checks and should be a major offensive threat. I think he will be contributing to the Blackhawks at some point next season, but I feel that he will start the year in Rockford for some seasoning first.
Rostislav Olesz- Olesz was acquired from the Florida Panthers as part of the Brian Campbell trade last June. He was a pure salary dump for the Panthers and never really impressed me in Chicago. Olesz had no points in his six games with the Blackhawks. He put up decent numbers while spending most of the season in Rockford. He 41 points (17 G, 24 A) in 50 games for the IceHogs. He would have to make a dramatic improvement to be part of the Hawks plans going forward. The problem is he is signed for two more seasons at a $3.1 million cap hit.
Jeremy Morin- Morin has been on the Hawks radar for a couple of seasons now. He has 3 points (2 G, 1A) in 12 career games with the Blackhawks. He didn’t crack the score sheet in his 3 games in Chicago this season. Morin had 40 points (18 G, 22A) in 69 games for Rockford. Morin has good stick handling skills and is a good shooter who is not afraid to get into the high traffic areas. He will need to improve his defensive play if he wants to stick around with the pro club. He also needs to cut back on his penalties, he took 121 penalty minutes last season for the IceHogs.